343 DM Wide
A bit of a delayed start from me as I have been out of the running this weekend with kidney stones.
I consider myself a fairly attacking manager so the 343 DM Wide was a nice change of pace form the fairly top heavy formations I usually use.
So when starting out I was thinking that if we do have 8 men behind the ball most of the time, defending would have to be our bread and butter. So out went a bunch of dead wood to raise some very necessary cash which was immediately converted in two very solid South American center backs. Correa came in on loan to add some much needed technique and speed up front.
The roles haven't changed from the start so I'll begin with that.
Mammana and Alvarez form the defense with the experienced captain Perrin in cover slightly behind them. On the wings I like to play both an attacking and a support player. An IFS and WBA on one side which creates some much needed linkup play and a Raumdeuter on the other side to support (and hopefully bomb past) the CFS up front. Behind him a WB on support to compensate for the very attacking role in front of him. In center midfield a DM support to enforce the "weak" side of the defense on the WB attack side and a Roaming playmaker to exploit the massive gap between the front three and the rest of the pack.
Initially the idea was to keep things as simple as possible. Tactical instructions were kept at a minimum: look for overlap and play fairly wide since if we were going to attack and create superior numbers going forward it would have to be over the wings due to the lack of offensive central players. I am usually apprehensive to increase width, but with three at the back and 4 in front of them I figured I could get away with it. Lastly I added play out of defense because we lack aerial presence up front, so playing it long would most likely lead nowhere. I thought about pushing up further, but having some of the worst decision making in the league I didn't feel comfortable playing with large amounts of space in our backs. Besides, the general idea was to let the opposition run into an impenetrable wall and react from there. Instead I switched to very fluid to decrease space between attack and defense. Mentality at standard, I can always go more attacking in match when behind.
After a couple of friendlies I realized that while I was okay with having less possession and shots than my opponents we just weren't winning enough balls back. So I added closing down more and use tighter marking (yes, I too have been reading Ö-zil to the Arsenal!'s excellent thread), and things started to click. The closing down forced opponents to play the forward ball quicker and my tight marking superior numbers in the back mob it up.
Essentially my formation is a 343 with ball and a 523 without it:
So how does it all work out? Pretty damn well!
It was almost September before we conceded out first goal. But when it rains it pours, more on that a bit later. In general there are not a lot of shots on either side. The Toulouse match is a pretty good example:
Like most matches everything seems pretty equal. The one thing that differs almost always between me and my opponents is the amount of shots on target. The sheer amounts of bodies between the ball and the goal, combined with the closing down and tight marking make sure my opponents rarely hit the target. Which is very pleasing indeed. Going forward on the other hand we look great on occasion, stretching the play with the wing backs and creating some good chances.
Lastly the 0-3 Lorient loss:
As you can see things are not as bad as the scoreline suggests. We created enough but struggled with their 442. Their 2 strikers seemed to be able to find space in between the back three and I didn't have a direct answer for that without changing formation. 3 at the back is something I haven't done in years so any pointers are welcome!
Anyway these are my early findings. I am having much more fun than I thought I would have with such a defensive formation, and things are looking good, especially considering tactical familiarity is still not 100%. I'll wait for that to happen and then maybe tweak some more and start adding some individual TI's.
As I am writing this I occasionally drop to the floor screaming in agony because of these damn kidney stones, so if everything seems a bit incoherent I apologize.
Lastly, this save brought me my quickest hattrick ever, so please indulge me while I gloat a bit...